Sunday, January 15, 2012

Haunted by Water

I recently re-read "A River Runs Through It" by Norman Maclean. This is a wonderful story of two brother growing up and flyfishing in Montana during the early 1900's with their Presbyterian minister father. It is also a deep and tragic telling of the loss of a loved one and the helplessness the author felt when he could not save his brother.
Maclean paints a picture in words of the waters and trout of the Montana of his youth. I could easily fill an entire entry with the lofty prose he treats the reader to.
I think the one thing that attracts me to this story is the deep understanding that Maclean had with his surroundings and how the great Montana trout rivers spoke to him in the timeless manner. I can only try to relate to my own angling life.
Maclean does not rely on a bunch flowery adjectives to tell his story like so many erstwhile writers do today. He puts into words the very sadness he never got over at the loss of someone that he could not help.
Don't we all have someone in our lives like Norman Maclean's brother Paul. Someone so gifted yet so fatally flawed that you know that your precarious grip on them and your love for them is not enough. Paul Maclean was a shooting star that shone bright but so quickly and prematurely extinguished.
Maclean wrote " All good things come by grace and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy" So I would ask simply what does that say to you? I know that Maclean was writing about the art of casting a fly but I think it says least to me it does.
To me it says simply that the things we work hard for are things we cannot take for granted once we get them. We strive to make the best casts or tie the most perfect fly but how about the journey?
Is fly fishing a means to an end? I suppose it is for me because it is only through the simple but beautiful "four count movement" That perfect peace in an angling life can be achieved or at least striven for.
I had a friend who wanted to proudly display a picture of a steelhead he had recently caught. He acted like I would be angry that he got a fish and I had not ? I was happy for him! I was happy for him in a way that can only come through the satisfaction of knowing I need not compete anymore.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Please Kill Hatchery Fish

When I say kill hatchery fish I mean just that! If you buy an angling license you are helping to pay for the rearing of hatchery fish. That cost has an astronomical price per fish so since you and I are paying for them we should utilize them by killing them and therefore removing them from the river.
Sound wasteful? Not at all! You are just utilizing a resource that was put in place for you to harvest fish. You say you just like to catch and release all fish and cannot bring yourself to kill any. Well that is fine and good for wild fish as they should almost always be released to propagate the species so good on you for being a good steward of the wild resource. On the same line of thinking, you are also being a good steward of the resource when you remove hatchery salmon, trout and steelhead from rivers with a wild fish population.Remember that hatchery salmon, trout and steelhead should never ever be allowed to co-mingle with wild salmon,trout and that? The effect on the wild population is devastating!
So here is my advice. Want to eat some fish? Kill your limit of hatchery fish! Did you catch a trophy sized hatchery fish? Congratulations! Kill it and then have it mounted or better yet take measurements and pictures for a replica mount then kill the hatchery fish to eat or give away or use as fertilizer for your wife's rose bed. The important thing is to harvest that hatchery fish.
How about if the fish is unfit for consumption from spawning? I kill it, tag it and release it back into the river for nutrients. I do that but you might not want to do it because it is considered wasting a game fish so do not do anything illegal! If you've caught your daily limit of hatchery fish then go home and come back the next day and kill your hatchery fish limit again.
You may get the warm fuzzies by letting a hatchery fish go and thinking you've done the fish a big favor, well you may have done that fish a big favor but you sure as hell didn't do the resource any favors! That fish could stray into wild salmonid spawning grounds and spawn with a wild fish thus diluting the wild salomnid genes. You've done a huge disservice to the wild fish by releasing a hatchery fish that you should have kept.
Remember this much. That hatchery fish is yours to utilize in whatever way you see fit. Give it away or plant it in your flower bed or use for crab bait or put it on the BBQ grill and have uncle Vern over for dinner.The important thing is to KILL ALL HATCHERY SALMON, TROUT AND STEELHEAD!!!!